Charles Gardner Radbourn 1854-1897
Providence Grays 1881-1885
Boston Beaneaters 1886-1889
Boston Reds 1890
Cincinnati Reds 1891
Tired of tossing a little five-ounce baseball for two hours? I used to be a butcher. From four in the morning until eight at night, I knocked down steers with a 25-pound sledge. Tired from playing two hours a day for 10 times the money I used to get for 16 hours a day? – Old Hoss after being asked if he got tired from pitching so often.
Career WAR: 77.2 Total (73.5 Pitching)
Best Season: 1884 59-12 1.38 ERA 205 ERA+ 2.75 FIP 0.922 WHIP 19.1 WAR 73 GS 73 CG 678.2 IP
Known For: May have put together the finest single season for a pitcher in history in 1884, one of the first pitchers to vary his arm angles, known as one of the top fielding pitchers of his era, maintains a Twitter account even though he has been dead for more than a century.
The Bad: Was suspended at least twice in his career for “slovenly” play. Feuded with a teammate Charlie Sweeney during the 1884 season.
The Interesting: Where to start? During his feud with Sweeney, Hoss reportedly lost a game on purpose by throwing lob pitches (this is in his 59-12 season), earning one of his suspensions. Sweeney was the only pitcher left on the roster, and the pressure without his teammate/rival Hoss around got to be too much. Sweeney quit the team in the middle of a game in a drunken fit. Old Hoss, though still on suspension, suddenly had some leverage with the team, and made the deal that he would pitch the team to the pennant in exchange for some contractual changes, including a raise and an exemption from the reserve clause. The Grays agreed, and Old Hoss started 41 of the team’s last 51 games, and at one point won 18 straight, and, of course, led the team to the pennant.
Innovations that didn’t quite stick: Hoss experiemented with a pitch that bounced in the dirt then crossed the plate at the strike zone. Though there was nothing in the rules stating it was not legal, the umpires did not allow it. One newspaper report insisted that he pitched with both arms, though there is no other evidence that he was ambidextrous. He also was (incorrectly) credited with inventing the change up.
Hall of Fame Facial Hair: Check.
Flipping the Bird on Camera: First ever.
Training: A quart of whiskey every day.
After Baseball: Owned and operated a saloon and billiards parlor. Was shot in the face in a hunting accident in 1894. Died of complications due to syphilis.
About Getting Shot: There were rumors prior to the 1884 season that Radbourn had been shot in the thigh by a “female acquaintance” – it turned out the person who was shot was a cousin Old Hoss.
Comments from Voters:
“Also, as your filling out your ballots, remember to toss Old Hoss some love. I didn’t think I would have to mention that, but here we are, not voting for a man so good at baseball that he inspired a man born in a different century to fake a Twitter account for him.” – Nibbish
“has anyone tweeted this honor to Old Hoss from the WGOM account?” – Cheaptoy
“Do we want that bastard to know? ” – brianS